Using Practice Based Evidence to Improve Outcomes in Psychotherapy: A New Paradigm in Clinical Practice

The course considers two topics spread over two days. The first day is devoted to evidence that suggests a substantial number of patients treated for psychological problems do not benefit and that therapists routinely fail to identify such cases. Methods of monitoring treatment response are suggested and the demonstrated benefits of applying these methods are outlined. The research evidence suggests that these methods can be applied in routine care and take little therapist time. How these ideas, methods, and results can be applied in the UK will be discussed in dialogue with John Mellor-Clark and Professor Michael Barkham, as well as with the workshop participants.

The second day focuses on the evidence that individual therapists account for more of the outcome of treatment than specific techniques or models (in contrast to many current notions of ‘evidence based psychotherapy’). Participants will be shown methods for tracking their patients’ outcomes and for comparing themselves against especially successful therapists. The implications of this work for the field in the UK will again be discussed in dialogue with Michael Barkham and John Mellor-Clark, as well as with the workshop participants. The proposition is that if practitioners want to enhance their effectiveness, they will benefit from monitoring their patients’ treatment responses and acting responsively to the feedback provided by outcomes monitoring.

Full workshop timetable

Psychological theory underpinning the event:

The use of feedback to enhance performance has a long history of study and theory development. Bickman et al., have developed a theoretical model to explain and direct the use of feedback: Contextualized Feedback Intervention Theory. They posit that the effectiveness of feedback is likely to vary as a function of the degree of discrepancy between therapists’ views of progress and measured progress, and that the greater the discrepancy the more likely feedback will prompt corrective actions. Feedback is most likely to change behaviour when the information provided indicates the individual is not meeting up to an established standard if they are committed to the goal of improving their performance, aware of a discrepancy between the goal and reality (particularly if the goal is attractive and the clinician believes it can be accomplished), the feedback source is credible; feedback is immediate, frequent, systematic, cognitively simple (such as graphic in nature), unambiguous, and provides clinicians with concrete suggestions of how to improve. The feedback proposed meets these criteria.

Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will be able to specify a positive and negative treatment outcome based on a standardized scale.
  • Participants will be able to list steps that need to be taken in order to implement an effective feedback system.
  • Participants will be able to summarize the results of providing feedback to therapists about non responding patients.
  • Participants will be able to use a decision tree problem solving strategy andbrief psychological tests to prompt changes in the course of psychotherapy.

This course is intended for anyone who practices psychological therapy and wants to know the implications of current psychotherapy research for clinical practice. Also, IAPT clinicians and managers who want to know how to maximise the clinical yield from session by session outcome monitoring and managers of psychological therapy services who wish to improve the quality of their services by implementing formal feedback systems.


Michael J. Lambert, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology and holds the Susa Young Gates University Professorship at Brigham Young University. He has been in private practice as a psychotherapist throughout his career. His research spans 40 years and has emphasized psychotherapy outcome, process, and the measurement of change.  He has edited, authored, or co-authored 9 academic research-based books, and 50 book chapters, while publishing over 150 scientific articles on treatment outcome.  He has given over 200 presentations across the world, many of them invited addresses.  He was the recipient of the Distinguished Career Research award by The Society of Psychotherapy Research for his lifetime contributions to research and professional practice.  His current program of research focuses on reducing treatment failure and non response through the use of advanced statistical methods and computer applications. His latest book: Prevention of Treatment Failure: The Use of Measuring, Monitoring, & Feedback in Clinical Practice.


John Mellor-Clark has been engaged in the evaluation of UK psychological therapies and counselling for the past 20 years. Originally trained as an organisational psychologist, John's special interest in quality assurance in healthcare has led him to regularly publish and present on a range of topics such as best practice development, service quality benchmarking and introducing practitioner performance appraisal. Through the mid 1990s John led the development of the CORE System as the first UK standardised quality evaluation system for psychological therapy. Today this system is used by over 250 services and 3,500 clinicians to help measure, monitor and manage therapy outcomes. The unique empirical yield from CORE helps create one of the single largest databases of practice-based evidence in the field.

Michael Barkham is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Centre for Psychological Services Research at the University of Sheffield. Previously he was Professor of Clinical and Counselling Psychology as well as Director of the Psychological Therapies Research Centre at the University of Leeds. He has published 150 peer-review articles in the areas of counselling and the psychological therapies and is committed to supporting the development of practice-based evidence as a complement to trials methodology. He is joint editor of the British Journal of Clinical Psychology, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and co-editor of Developing and delivering practice-based evidence: A guide for the psychological therapies (2010, Wiley).

Booking information


  • DCP members: £80 (+VAT)
  • Society members: £100 (+VAT)
  • Society non-members: £130 (+VAT)

How to book


Thu, 08/09/2011 (All day) to Fri, 09/09/2011 (All day)
Contact Information: 

BPS Learning Centre

+44 (0)116 2529925

BPS Learning Centre